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Deterring Cybertrespass and Securing Cyberspace: Lessons from United States Border Control Strategies

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Technical Report

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Army War College -Strategic Studies Institute Carlisle United States

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For most military analysts, the term deterrence brings to mind the notion of nuclear deterrence. We think of how two opposing states attempt to deter their adversaries through creating a balance of weapons, telegraphing their intentions, and establishing themselves as a credible threat. We think of the Cold War, and the standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States. However, in this Letort Paper, Dr. Mary Manjikian raises the intriguing notion that the best analogy when thinking about cyber-deterrence does not actually come from the nuclear arena but rather from the literature about border controls. Drawing on a rich literature, including case studies of successful and unsuccessful attempts at securing the Southern border of the United States, she demonstrates that the approaches, strategies, and costs of carrying out physical border defense and virtual border defense have many similarities. First, Dr. Manjikian argues that the actors we most need to deter in cyberspace are often not states but rather may include a broad coalition of threatsincluding insiders, state and nonstate actors, and members of a criminal element. Just as is the case when we consider our physical borders, not everyone who attempts to traverse our virtual borders uses the same methods, nor do they have the same intentions. Thus, differentiated deterrence strategies can be framed and used, depending on the nature of the threat and the adversarys intentions. Furthermore, Dr. Manjikian argues that in cyber deterrence, there is no clear moment of a standoff between two opposing sidesas we often see in the nuclear arena. Instead, the actions taken by those attempting to defend borders in cyberspace and those who attempt to trespass them are ongoing. In addition, just as is the case in real space-border incursions, over time trespassers learn more about their adversaries defenses.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Civil Defense
  • Computer Systems Management and Standards

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